Katasraj Temple in Katas village of Pakistan is an ancient Shiva Temple. It is the most famous Shiva Temple in Pakistan. This temple complex is situated in Katas village near Choa Saidanshah in the Chakwal district of Punjab.
According to legends, Katasraj Temple has existed since the days of Mahabharata and the Pandava brothers spent a substantial part of their exile at the site and later Krishna himself laid the foundation of this temple and established his hand made Shivling in it.
History of Karasraj Temple
As per the sources, the temple complex was built in the 6th century AD. The construction of this temple complex was started in the 6th century and went on till 10th-11th century.
The temple complex was abandoned by Hindus when they migrated to East Punjab in 1947 during the partition of India and Pakistan. No Hindu has stayed back in the village.
Even now, hundreds of devotees from India visit the temple and offer their worship to Lord Shiva during Mahashivaratri and other auspicious occasions.
Katasraj Temple Complex
Katasraj Temple Complex has satgraha, a group of seven ancient temples, a few medieval temples, havelis and some recently constructed temples and the holy pond. Shiva Temple, Ramachandra Mandir and Hanuman Mandir are the prominent temples in this complex.
Festivals & Celebrations
To celebrate Mahashivaratri, few hundreds of Indian Hindus visit the temple and offer their pujas on the occasion. The government of Pakistan has nominated this temple complex to be a World Heritage site.
Legends associated with this temple
According to sources, many legends are associated with this temple complex. It is believed that this temple dates back to the Mahabharata era.
Katasraj Temple – Mahabharata
According to the legend of Mahabharata, the five Pandava brothers, stayed here for four of the 13 years of their exile at Katas village. The lake in the complex is believed to be filled with Shiva’s tears thus have magical powers and is supposed to be where Yudhishthira defeated the Yaksha with his wisdom, bringing his brothers back to life.
Katasraj Temple – Shiva & Sati Devi
Another legend involves the death of Shiva’s wife Sati; the story goes that when she died he cried so much and for so long that his tears created two holy ponds – one at Pushkara in Ajmer (India) and the other at Ketaksha (Pakistan), which literally means “raining eyes” in Sanskrit. It is from this name that the word Ketas is derived. Another version of the legend mentions the two pools at Katasraj and Nainital.
Katasraj Temple – Shiva’s Horse
Yet another version of the Shiva legend involves the death of Shiva’s horse Katas instead of that of Sati his consort. Some legends also state that very first Shiva Ling (Sihv-Ling) was in Kattas. some old manuscripts also consider Katas as the janam bhoomi (birthplace) of Hindu incarnation Rama, as well as that of Ayodhya; but this has become quite controversial. The oral tradition by local Hindus never mentioned it as being Rama’s birthplace or celebrated in annual rituals.